Sandi's Reviews > The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
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May 26, 08

bookshelves: 2008, young-adult
Read in May, 2008

I got this book for a reading group. I was going to read it and pass it to my almost-13 year old son. Although I thought the book was very well written and had a lot of positive things to say, I decided not to pass it on. I'm not sure at what age I will deem it appropriate for my son.

On the positive side, this book is a story about a 14 year old Indian boy who decides to go off the reservation to attend high school in the neighboring white farming community. It's not easy for him because his fellow Indians hate him and he doesn't fit in with the white kids. But, he succeeds anyway. He learns that it's most important to be true to yourself and to have hope than it is to stick with your race. The narrator is refreshingly honest and I'm sure boys would identify with him. It gives readers an interesting look at what it's like to live in poverty and hopelessness and the cost of breaking free from that.

On the negative side, this book talks a lot about mastrubation and erections and beating people up and alcoholism. The portrayal of Indians on the reservation is very stereotypical. I don't know if it's true, but I find it just promotes the stereotypes.

Yes, I know these topics are a part of life, but I really think my son would be very, very embarrassed to read this stuff (especially the sexual stuff) knowing I had read it first. I also think he would be mortified that I had read this stuff and thought it was a good idea for him to read the book. I will put this book in my bookcase, not his. If he pulls it out to read it, fine. If not, fine. It's not something I'm going to insist that he read.
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Comments (showing 1-14 of 14) (14 new)

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Kane Ashton UUUUMMMMM. The book was written by an indian. It is about the author. He was actually born on a rez with water on the brain. So it is actually not being very stereotypical because he is saying these things from a true firsthand perspective. HE IS AN INDIAN. Furthermore your son probably wont be embarrassed to read this. I was twelve when I read it an I LOVED it.


Ellie It is a true story- and it was a great book. I read it when I was 12.


Kane Ashton Thanks again Ellie.


Vanessa your 13 year old son is going to be experiencing and feeling many of the things in this book that made you uncomfortable...all the more reason to share the book and use it to start an important conversation with your son that validates these very real part-of-life experiences. this book humanizes the indigenous experience--the fact that addresses alcoholism does not make the depiction stereotypical because it puts it in its larger socioeconomic, political, and psychological context and gives depth and dimension to each character.


Stephenie i grew up on a reservation and moved off when i was 18. this book, though stereotypical, was dead on. i think it would help some people to read this and maybe understand what it is really like. i have chosen not to follow the path many do- drinking- because what could happen is not worth it. it may seem like he has chosen to throw in a lot (would all of that really happen?), but, in my personal experience, it was horribly realistic.


message 6: by Kalyn (new) - added it

Kalyn This is not a true story. Everyone keeps saying it is but it isn't. Alexie stated in an interview that it is based loosely off his life. It's not an auto-biography.


Lynne Excuse my incredulity for a moment. Pretending for your son's benefit that you don't know teen boys masturbate or have erections or being in denial that he is aware of said phenomena may not be a good idea. Your son might appreciate a)that you trust him to read a book that treats the subject as natural, and b)that you are open and understanding about his emerging sexuality as well as his maturity to handle such subject matter. Also, if he watches television, plays video games, or attends public school, he's seen people get beaten up. It's not about his exposure to these ideas, but how he perceives them that matters. Disclaimer: Some kids are more emotionally mature at 13 than others. You know your kid; I don't. But my vast experience as a teacher in public school and as the parent of five children has shown me that "sheltering" is not a good form of "protection" for young people.


Lucas Brown lady you suck


Lynne Lucas wrote: "lady you suck"
Which lady? More than one female has posted here. And please be specific about said suckage and able to defend your position. "you suck" or "you're stupid" or even "you're just wrong" are neither civil nor conducive to mature sharing of ideas.


message 10: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Huffaker Sandi I was actually appreciative of your review as I was looking for this type of info. My son just turned 11 and although he is an advanced reader I have to be cautious of the subject matter as he is pretty immature. I'm looking for a book for his fifth grade book report but I think this one will have to wait a year or two. Thanks for sharing, despite everyone's opinion here you know your kid they don't! Besides you didn't say you didn't want him to read it, you just thought he would be embarrassed if you encouraged it! You know your kid!


message 11: by Mady (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mady Martin This book in no way promotes alcoholism. Junior decides not to drink alcohol because of the way it has affected, and even ended, the lives of those close to him.


Kelsey Confused as to how you think this book promotes alcoholism instead of thinking "This book will open up the possibility for a great dialogue about addiction and why alcohol/drugs are really dangerous." Talk to your children, people.

And in no way does this book "promote stereotypes." This is real. This is what we have done to these people. These are the conditions we let them live in and force them into. Talk to your son about it. Get out and DO something about it. Don't brush it off as a "stereotype" its a PROBLEM.


Lynne Kelsey wrote: "Confused as to how you think this book promotes alcoholism instead of thinking "This book will open up the possibility for a great dialogue about addiction and why alcohol/drugs are really dangerou..."

Thank you, Kelsey. Great response.


Katie @Kelsey NAILED it. You said all that needed to be said. Thank you.


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